Tech
Social Media

Twitter will limit reach of ‘hateful’ tweets with a label, not removal

"Freedom of Speech, not Freedom of Reach," said Twitter.
By Matt Binder  on 
Twitter Safety
Twitter will now slap a label on tweets that include hate speech and other "hateful conduct" to let users know the post's visibility has been limited. Credit: CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

You can still find hate speech on Elon Musk's Twitter. But now, some of it will come with a warning label.

According to Twitter, the company will start(opens in a new tab) rolling out new warning labels on tweets that break its "Hateful Conduct" rules. Tweets with this label will have "limited visibility" on the platform, meaning that Twitter's algorithm will reduce its reach — that is, fewer people will see the content, as its ability to be found via search or discovered via recommendations will be stifled.

Twitter stressed that the limited visibility will only affect the specific offending tweets, and accounts that tweet hateful content will not be deboosted or penalized in any way. The company said users will be able to submit appeals if they believe Twitter wrongly affixed their tweet with the label. Twitter also said it will "continue to remove illegal content and suspend bad actors" from the platform.

Limiting the visibility on user accounts or posts is typically referred to as shadowbanning, a practice that Musk and his staunchest supporters have frequently railed against(opens in a new tab).

However, Twitter is framing letting users know that a tweet has had visibility limited for breaking the company's "Hateful Conduct" policies as a new step towards more transparency on the platform. Of course, any extra information provided by a platform to its users is a welcomed addition. But, again, from a content moderation standpoint, it's exactly the type of activity that Musk has previously criticized.

Twitter's policies define hateful conduct(opens in a new tab) as racist or sexist slurs, tropes, and intimidation, as well as hateful references, imagery, and incitement.

Musk previously shared(opens in a new tab) his vision of a platform with "freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach" before. However, so far, researchers and many Twitter users have noticed quite the opposite(opens in a new tab), often finding that hate speech and other extremist content make its way into the recommendations of the default For You feed.

Earlier this year, Twitter slashed its global content moderation team as part of a series of layoffs under Musk.


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